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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Musical outlet for students

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Photo by Photo by Maria Ramos

The concert band program provides students who are not in the Aggie Band with the opportunity to make music. 

In the midst of academic stress associated with pursuing a challenging university degree, some students find solace by making music.
Since 1973, the concert band program has offered a musical alternative to the Aggie Band. Membership in the Aggie Band requires participation in the Corps of Cadets and focuses on a military-style marching approach. For students who do not wish to take this route, the university concert bands are open to all students and provide academic credit through the College of Liberal Arts.
Timothy Rhea, director of bands and music activities, has been on staff for 25 years. Rhea said that placement among the four concert bands is ability based, but that the directors do whatever they can to keep students playing during their time at Texas A&M.
“The major focus of the entire program is that it’s a positive musical experience for the students in it,” Rhea said. “A lot of the students here could get a big music scholarship to play at other schools if that was what they wanted to do. But they’ve chosen to be engineers, or nurses, or whatever it is that they’ve chosen. But music is a very important emotional outlet for them, so they’re very serious about it.”
A&M does not offer music majors, which Rhea said affects the concert band program. When he was pursuing his degrees in music at other universities, Rhea said attitudes weren’t always positive. Because the musicians at A&M aren’t required to participate based on scholarships and degree programs, Rhea said the experience is more holistic.
“They don’t get a penny for playing in any of these ensembles,” Rhea said. “So it creates a very different atmosphere than what you might find at other colleges. I think that’s why it works so well, because of the standards that students here have in everything they do. They always want it to be the highest standard.”
Danial Seek, mechanical engineering junior and member of the Symphonic Band, has participated in the university concert band since his first semester at A&M. Seek said he originally joined because his high school band experience was positive and provided him with friends, but that the concert band program here has exceeded his initial expectations.
“It’s proved to be a mental break from the engineering classes I take,” Seek said. “The staff for the concert bands know what they’re doing, they’re very knowledgable. Everyone there is just there for the sole purpose of making music and having fun. It’s an interesting experience to be in the band just for the sake of being in the band.”
Rainey Webb, accounting sophomore, said she considered joining the Corps to continue marching band, but was excited when she found out there was an option for a musical outlet without becoming a cadet.
“There’s a fair amount of Corps members, but the majority of those involved are just students who enjoyed being in their high school bands for similar reasons that I did, but didn’t necessarily want to be in the Corps,” Webb said. “Not that they can’t do the Corps, it’s just not what they’re looking to get out of college.”
Josh Ostberg, university studies junior, came from a high school band in New Jersey that was much smaller than the bands here. As a member of both the Aggie Band and concert band, Ostberg said he is grateful to have experienced both musical approaches during his college career.
“Some of the kids in high school band don’t really care about being there,” Ostberg said. “Which is fine, but you can definitely tell in the concert band that people want to be in the class, because you have to sign up for it. It’s a whole different group of musicians who are wanting and willing to play their instruments. There’s so many talented musicians here.”
Ostberg said his involvement in the concert band has opened the door for him to interact with students he wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to and shown him how much culture the university has.
“The arts are not dead here,” Ostberg said. “We can’t forget about this group of individuals, because they’re excelling and representing our university in the best ways possible, too.”

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